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Nepalese Notebook: September 8th, 2014

September 8th, 2014

Chitwan

Chitwan: the Nepalese Terai, the land of the Tharu.  These are the lowlands of the Himalaya, a vast jungle filled with rhinos, tigers, and crocodiles, interspersed with the irrigated fields of the natives.  From Kathmandu it is a 5 hours bus ride along narrow and sometimes precipitous roads in which the drivers take every advantage of passing one another regardless of blind curves or the stories of overturned buses only days before.  And yet the driving is not reckless; for when you see your driver passing another bus without any hope of gauging a head-on collision, you are able to find in his unshakeability a small comfort, knowing that the danger he has put you in, he may now save you from, as he swerves back with amazing dexterity only seconds before another bus would have brought upon your ruin. This is only one of the shocks though; the city of Kathmandu itself holds more than one could ever imagine; danger becomes no more than an inability to understan…

A Poet's Journal: March ?, 2014

March ?, 2014

I have never been one to believe dreams hold such a power over an individual that they could change his perception of reality or even the memory of past events.  They are nonetheless fascinating symbols of the mind, but rarely give us enough matter for thought in our waking hours.  However, it was only this morning that I confused a very deep and vivid dream for the real-life memory of one held in common with another.

I found myself one pleasant day at a small tower that had been a part of a now ruined castle not far from the city where I was living.  Inside this tower, which had been completely renovated and was now situated in a finely kept park, was the public library of the district.  All of the books were neatly set-up and easily accessible considering the small circular space of the tower; but there was one part which had to be accessed by a ladder put there for that purpose; and once in this crawl space, which was only of a height for someone to lean on his elbow, the books were aligned in shelves one after the other, from which one could only pass his arm and take whatever came into his reach.  There were of course many books that one could not get to, and this was nonetheless disconcerting, causing my arms and legs much strain in trying to figure out how I could reach the last rows.  My effort did not last long however; instead I succeeded in finding a rather comfortable position, lying alongside one of the shelves with my head propped against a window-sill, from which I took whatever book came under my hand and spent the remainder of time in reading.

After a while though I returned and met the person who accompanied me outside on a bench and felt such a deep tranquility at the sight of the tower and the park that I agreed to return as much as possible to this place.  Of course once we were back home the idea slipped my mind and days and weeks passed and I forgot all about the tower.  This morning I ventured to bring it up again and asked that same person if they would accompany me.  After much doubt and many questions though I found that tower and that park to be only a delusion from my dream the night before, and even when I came to realize it, I still thought they both existed somewhere, in a place I was forgetting, in a part of the city that we had not been to in so long that our memory of it was somehow deceiving us, but of course it was of no use.  Strangely, I do not feel disillusioned even now, only older, as someone who has matured in an eternal and endless breath of time, and the fact that that place does not exist has now become a reason for me to believe that it was at one time true.

Douglas Thornton

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A Poet's Journal: September 23rd, 2013

September 23th, 2013

A flock of geese passed on the 20th--only the second to date, the other being sandhill cranes.  The 22nd marked the equinox and the moon rose with such grandeur that I was able to follow the contours of a crater with my binoculars until it was enveloped in the earth's shadow.  It makes us wonder what things we would see if we could only look hard enough; or rather, if we could focus our mind on one thought with such illuminating perception, what would our view from the earth look like and where the paths of migration lead?
Douglas Thornton

A Poet's Journal: October 7th, 2013

October 7th, 2013

To peruse the pages of forgotten books is a pastime in which I shall always partake; and though it turns out that very few sentences are actually read, the mere fixture of the words, or the subject, create an affinity in the mind apt to deeper contemplation.  Hardly can such a book be opened before we feel exist a mystic relationship with what is old, and even more so to the obscure, and far from leading us into a clear path of understanding, that same awkward and unsettling sentiment transfixes us and our thoughts drift back and forth upon the page until it is no longer the story to which we are attached, but the power of our imagination.  It is only when we feel we need to know something that words become our greatest let down; they are but a means to the mysterious--for even among the driest of archaeological accounts there remains something so unilluminating, that were the greatest poet to take up their theme, he could not inspire a finer feeling than the descrip…

Newly Published Poetry: The Wintering-Ground (With Audio)

As winter is finally coming to a close, let us reflect upon the passing season and find a place where we are truly alive.  Please click on the link below or scroll down to read this newly published poem:
The Wintering-Ground by Douglas Thornton


The Wintering-Ground

Within what hut,
My woodland maid,
May I remain awhile?
Next what fire may my chills
Be warmed? Be there
A path that leads
Past stony piles and tells
Us not to walk alone?

I do not think,
My woodland maid,
Deep sleep my dreams will find;
Nor will my coldness cede
To warm sunshine.
But if my steps
Should weary long, nor learn
My ways to scorn, that hut
Through lost defiles
I’ll find once more.
Douglas Thornton

Seasons Of Mind ON SALE NOW!!

There is time for nothing else in this world but what we ourselves have set afoot, and finding the majority of our efforts occupied with a certain hope of reward, it is not distasteful to give ourselves pleasure with simplicity and joy in far-seeming whims.  Thus, it is the hope that, with the release of Seasons Of Mind, those of you may find in it a pleasure to your free time and a joy in reflection.

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A Poet's Journal: October 11th, 2012 (With Audio)

October 11th, 2012

A large group of cranes pass over. There is something so bland in life that we become subverse to the very details that make it up; and yet, brought to our attention, those details are of no special concern, though they have created our interest in the first place.  When we ask someone to stand out, we are not asking of anything genuine or long-standing, but merely a blind antagonist to draw us in to an ever greater competition of self-worth.  But how foolish!  For he who is willing to combat his fellow-man proves he is not on even terms with him and has not attained the superiority of triumph in his own mind.  Instead of the ideas of excellence that another puts forth, should he find the terms for his own conviction.  But if there is a sage of dire consequence, he has folded up his robe, for among the vast infinitude of prophecy there are but one or two decisions to be made.  Perhaps we could still hear his echo if it were not that he too has become so bland.
Dougl…

NEWLY PUBLISHED TRANSLATIONS!!

Newly published at the Society of Classical Poets:  Translations of André Chénier’s Poetry, by Douglas Thornton

The Flute

Douglas Thornton

Ever tender and touching the moment,
When pressing himself the flute to my mouth,
Laughing and pulling me close to his breast,
He named me his rival and soon to be
Master.  My stiff and timid lips were shown
To breathe an air pure and harmonious,
And my young fingers, by his practiced hands,
Being raised and lowered a hundred times,
Though ever so trying, were taught to close
The different holes of the sonorous wood.

La Flûte

André Chénier

Toujours ce souvenir m'attendrit et me touche,
Quand lui-même, appliquant la flûte sur ma bouche,
Riant et m'asseyant sur lui, près de son coeur,
M'appelant son rival et déjà son vainqueur,
Il façonnait ma lèvre inhabile et peu sûre
A souffler une haleine harmonieuse et pure;
Et ses savantes mains prenaient mes jeunes doigts,
Les levaient, les baissaient, recommençaient vingt fois,
Leur enseignant ains…